One aspect of television technology that’s frequently overlooked is gaming. Some may look down on video games as being activities for adolescents, but a lot of former adolescents who were completely into video games have grown up and brought those games with them.
A quick look at some video game systems shows that the games have grown up too. Microsoft’s Xbox is a perfect example of this phenomenon. If the last video game system you played was an Atari or and Intellivision, you won’t even recognize the new Xbox 360. This system is meant to deliver the best possible video game experience given today’s technology and it uses that technology in full. It’s central processing unit is made up of three separate processors each with a clock speed of 3.2 Gigahertz. It also has an ATI graphics processor that runs at 500 Megahertz that can process four times as many pixels a second than the original Xbox. (There isn’t even a comparison between this and the Intellivision!) The Xbox 360 has 512 Megabytes of RAM which is shared among all of the processors.
The Xbox 360 is also designed to work with High Definition. As part of the standard for the Xbox 360 all video games have to support either 720p or 1080i resolutions and the wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio. Supposedly a High Definition Television set isn’t completely necessary to play the Xbox 360. If that’s true, one has to wonder what happens to the extra screen width when the Xbox is used with a 4:3 aspect ratio television. It’s easy to imagine losing the right and left edges of the screen getting in the way of playing some games. Like with First person shooters, you might find yourself shot by someone just out of your view but who you would have seen with a 16:9 screen.
The Xbox 360 also come with a 20 gigabyte hard drive. The hard drive is removable and can hold music to be played as a soundtrack to be played along with games. (In the old days we were forced to turn on the CD player if we wanted a sound track.) Presumably the hard drive could also hold digital photos and other data. In fact, though the literature is quick to emphasize that the Xbox 360 is primarily meant to be used as a gaming platform, it can be used for a lot of other types of media too. For example it will function as an MP3, CD, and DVD player and display digital photographs off of DVD’s and CD’s. The fact that the unit includes three USB ports means that a huge number of devices including digital cameras, MP3 players, and computers with Microsoft Windows XP can be used with the Xbox 360. Other extras include wireless controllers with rechargeable batteries that can charge on the unit itself, and the ability to establish a wireless connection with your computer.
With all of this connectivity it seems that they only thing, the Xbox 360 won’t do is replace the work station abilities of a normal computer.